KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Freshman All-American offensive tackle Trey Smith was an active participant Tuesday at practice as the Vols resumed Spring drills coming
off Spring practice.
Per our Volquest partners, Smith was a limited participant taking part in three or four "semi-contact" reps. That was the first time Smith had participated in light contact drills all Spring.
Trey has been limited after once again undergoing treatment for blood clots in his lungs. No official status has been set for the big lineman for next Fall.
Coach Jeremy Pruitt was complimentary of his special teams unit, including the kickers and returners. The Vols return kicker Brent Cimaglia, punter Joe Doyle and punter/kicker Paxton Brooks as well as long snapper Riley Lovingood.
“I think over the last couple weeks our kickers have continued to approve their operation,” Pruitt said. “That is a positive side.”
Special Teams as a Weapon
Pruitt said that the staff is still figuring out who will be in charge of returning the punts and kickoffs for the Vols in the fall, but Tennessee has some experience in that position with rising senior wide receiver Marquez Callaway and rising junior running back Ty Chandler.
“(We are) still trying to figure out who will all be our punter returners and our kick returners,” Pruitt said. “We have Marquez Callaway that did the punts last year and Ty Chandler and a couple other guys that did kickoffs. But we have competition back there.”
Last season, Callaway returned punt 82 yards for a touchdown – the 12th-longest in school history. The Warner Robins, Ga., native has two punt returns for touchdowns in his career and averaged 11.9 yards per return in 2018.
Chandler attempted seven kickoff returns last season in the 11 games he was in. He averaged 16.1 yards per attempt and his longest was 27 yards. In 2017, he returned an opening kickoff for 91 yards for a score versus Indiana State.
“We have to create a weapon with our special teams,” Pruitt said. “We are working hard to do that.”
Josh Palmer Continues to Improve
Pruitt said rising junior wide receiver Josh Palmer is improving as a wide receiver through more reps and experience during this spring.
“I think Josh is a guy that has a good frame,” Pruitt said. “He has good hands and he has speed. So, he has the physical attributes that you look for in a wide receiver. I think the more you play, obviously the better you get, the more reps you take and all that. So, this is his third year here, he’s been through spring before.”
Last season, Palmer finished his sophomore year first in the SEC and tied for fifth in the nation in yards per catch (21.0). He hauled in 23 catches and ranked second on the team with 484 receiving yards and two touchdowns, while averaging 40.3 yards per game.
“He has shown some progress; I think he’s done much better this spring blocking on the physical side,” Pruitt said. “So, he’s a guy that’s a big strong guy that runs fast and we need to be able to play him on special teams. He needs to be able to do that to give us a guy out there that can run and hit and give us another body.”
Vol Basketball is a Family Event at Pruitt’s House
Even with spring practice still in session, Pruitt has plans to cheer on the Tennessee basketball team in the Sweet Sixteen on Thursday. The game is scheduled for 7:29 p.m. ET as the Vols take on Purdue in Louisville, Ky.
“Every time that our basketball team is on TV, it’s a family gathering for us,” Pruitt said. “I have my three and one-year-olds with me and they have their own little basketball goal, so every time that Jordan (Bone) or Admiral (Schofield) or Grant (Williams) or someone shoots one, they start shooting one too.”
Pruitt went on to explain how the Rick Barnes-led squad has made a positive impact on the university.
“It’s exciting times to watch the way our guys play,” Pruitt said. “All of these guys have been great ambassadors for the University of Tennessee and Coach Barnes is doing a fantastic job. We’ll definitely be watching.”
Kenneth George Suspended
Pruitt announced on Tuesday that rising redshirt junior defensive back Kenneth George Jr. has been suspended indefinitely following an incident last week.
“We had an incident over spring break with Kenneth George Jr. and he has been suspended indefinitely from the team until we gather more information and let it run its course,” Pruitt said. “We don’t tolerate behavior like that and we are going to support all law enforcement that we come in contact with. We want our kids to do the right thing and we will respect the law. At the same time, we are going to support Kenneth through this, and we will see where it goes.”